Why I embrace social media

Why I embrace social media

Volume XVII NO. 41 (August 2-8, 2014)

By: Rafael Alunan III [To Take A Stand]
You might ask me, “Why are you active in social media?” I actually have many reasons to be active in social media, particularly Facebook.

It hones my writing skills. I’ve been writing this column for over 25 years. It began with Business Day before it became Business World shortly after Ninoy Aquino was murdered. I’m also in the process of writing a book. It helps me to try finding new ways to keep it brief and interesting.

It allows me to be myself. On some days, I function as a deejay posting music videos from YouTube. These range from retro songs dating back to the ‘60s and ‘70s, to my family’s favorite songs, to current hits.

On other days, I want to make people laugh with humorous stories, jokes and funny videos. At other times, I go on a poster binge that I find on other walls that give food for thought and calm the soul.

A favorite is Gandhi, like this one:
We live in a world we’ve created where there is: Wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principles.

It allows me to share experiences and exchange views on various topics. I’ve always considered media, where knowledge and information circulate freely, as the public’s teacher. I gain new perspective and insights from such exchanges as much as I hope others do from the content that I share or provide.

Through social and mass media, I’m able to contribute to institutional knowledge by sharing my experiences during the terms of Presidents Cory Aquino and Fidel Ramos.

People are hungry for the truth and good information, but one has to be discerning about the garbage that freely circulates in social media from the ignorant, the mentally impaired and those with hidden agendas.

It helps me connect – with new virtual “friends” and reconnect with old and real friends, here and abroad. I’ve been able to develop a network of real and virtual friends in various parts of the world.

The unbelievable reach that one obtains from the integration of social media sites inspired me to create a YouTube channel to expand my communication too kit. Entitled “Thinking Out Loud,” my first uploaded opinion piece focused on China’s nine-dash line fairy tale that I then linked to Facebook, Twitter and my personal blog.

I will soon upload the documentary Tagaligtas that I produced in collaboration with former President Fidel V. Ramos, founder of the Special Action Force (SAF). What SAF did before and during the time when I stood witness to its performance has significant educational and historical value that the public ought to know.

It’s an effective advocacy platform and mobilization tool. I used Facebook to co-convene the West Philippine Sea coalition to protest China’s incorrigible imperialist conduct before the Chinese Consulate in Makati on July 24 last year; and the press conferences and rallies that followed in coordination with Filipino groups here and overseas.

Because of it, many Facebook communities have sprung up relating to the defense of the West Philippine Sea. One site has even resorted to using an app where maritime locations of Chines vessels moving about the West Philippine Sea are posted to help the authorities.

Facebook and Twitter were also very effective in mobilizing enraged citizens over the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) issue that led to the Million Man March at the Luneta in August last year. That event brought to mind the text brigade that mobilized hundreds of thousands of protesters at EDSA in 2001 that led to then President Joseph Estrada’s downfall.

Farther back, I witnessed the use of other social media tools like the Pocket-bell pager messaging before, during and after the 1986 People Power Revolt, and at the time of the two most violent coup attempts against President Cory Aquino.

I also use Facebook to advocate for national security, good governance, poverty reduction, responsible citizenship and reproductive health that I consider indispensable to nation building; and to feel the pulse of the Facebook community on these issues. Facebook is also an effective medium to disseminate weather warnings and call for assistance, as well as coordinate efforts for rescue and relief when other channels of communication break down or prove ineffective.

It is a major source of information – for personal milestones such as new relationships, weddings, births, birthdays, graduation, anniversaries, trips, deaths, wakes and funerals. At times, I come across friends and relatives who need care and solace due to illness or a family crisis.

Social media also provide useful information about my alma mater, breaking and headline news, fine and casual dining, travel, movies, the performing arts and sports.

At the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, two of my favorite teams clashed for the championship – the teams of Pope Francis and Pope Benedict. I think the sauerkraut community will be celebrating all year long starting today.

I’ve noted that the uniformed services have been using social media for communication and information dissemination. It has tremendous potential for other purposes:
Military news, connectivity for networking, morale-welfare, family guidance and child care, crisis communications, rescue-relief-rehabilitation operations, educational courses, operations, security guidance, online shopping and banking, spouse or partner employment support, cyber security education, location services.

A personal caveat: I’m careful about discussing confidential information in social and mass media that, if revealed, could be harmful to the national interest. I’m also aware of the deluge of misinformation and disinformation out there that must be discerned. Cyber security begins with self, and what not to say or reveal is vital to our national wellbeing.

Let me end with another quote from Gandhi. The advice he gives is timeless:
Keep our thoughts positive because they become our words;
Keep your words positive because they become our behaviours;
Keep our behaviors positive because they become our habits;
Keep our habits positive because they become our values;
Keep our values positive because they become our destiny.